Novak Djokovic reveals the secret to his longevity at the top of tennis

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic 2023 US Open press conference
Novak Djokovic laughs at a 2023 US Open press conference

Novak Djokovic believes the key to his longevity as the king of men’s tennis is down to his ability to reinvent himself.

The world No 1 cemented his status as the greatest male player of all time as he claimed a 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open earlier this month and he has opened up on how he has maintained his hunger and self-belief.

Djokovic is almost certain to reach the milestone of a 400th week as world No 1 in the next few weeks and that remarkable achievement highlights his level of dominance over an extended period of time.

Yet when asked how he has maintained his hunger, one key quality has been pivotal to his success, which he describes as reinvention.

“There are always changes happening, literally on a weekly to monthly basis in my approach to training, to recovery to mental training,” stated Djokovic.

“There’s always something that I’m trying to add so that I can up my performance in my game, you know, at least for a few per cent.

“It’s a constant process of trying to get better and trying to implement certain things that work for you and finding that formula.

“When you find it, you know, the biggest I feel like, one of the biggest lessons I have learned probably mentally throughout my career is that, you know, even if you find a formula that works, it’s not a guarantee, and actually most likely it’s not going to work the next year.”

Not many elite athletes in world sport have managed to maintain the level of success Djokovic has achieved over the last 15 years.

Now he is competing against players who are almost half his age and eager to knock him off his perch, which appears to inspire him to reach for more.

“You need to reinvent yourself because everyone else does,” he added.

“As a 36-year-old competing with 20-year-olds, I probably have to do it more than I have ever done it in order to keep my body in shape, in order to be able to recover so that I can perform on the highest level consistently.

“Also mentally and emotionally to still keep the right balance between motivation so that I’m actually inspired and motivated to play the best tennis and to compete with these guys and to actually not let go in the moments when I maybe can, and at the same time keep the playfulness and passion for the sport.

“Because, you know, I can be very, how can I say, get down on myself and go into really high-stress moments, you know, on the practice days or matches. You know, you spend a lot of energy. But I guess, you know, maybe you can call me a perfectionist.

“I mean, I know I’m not the only one. I know there are a lot of great champions in different sports that thrive on this kind of approach to perfect themselves, their approach, their game, their performance and their recovery, every single day. On and on.

“That’s why LeBron James still keeps going at his age, or Tom Brady, you know, greats like that, that are inspiring.

“That’s basically it. You know, it’s a constant, evolving process of me trying to implement certain things that will give me an edge over the young guns.”

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